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Article: Stalag Luft 111

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    Stalag Luft 111

    3 Comments by Doc Vernon Published on 4th October 2018 10:09 PM
    With thanks to our lovely Jean Collins xxx

    The111-yard passage nicknamed 'Harry' by Allied prisoners was sealed by theGermans after the

    audaciousbreak-out from the POW camp Stalag Luft III in western Poland.

    Despite huge interest inthe subjegct, encouraged by the film starringSteve McQueen, the tunnel

    remained undisturbed over the decades because it was behind the Iron Curtain andthe Sovietm
    authorities had no interest in its significance
    But at last British archaeologists have excavated it, and discovered its remarkable secrets.
    Many of the bed boards which had been joined together to stop it collapsing were still in position.
    And the ventilation shaft, ingeniously crafted from used powdered milk containers known as Klim
    Tins, remained in working order.

    Scattered throughout the tunnel, which is 30ft below ground, were bits of old metal buckets,
    hammers and crowbars which were used to hollow out the route.

    A total of 600 prisoners worked on three tunnels at the same time. They were nicknamed Tom,
    Dick and Harry and were just 2 ft. square for most of their length.
    It was on the night of March 24 and 25, 1944, that 76 Allied airmen escaped through Harry.

    Barely a third of the 200 prisoners many in fake German uniforms and civilian outfits and carrying
    false identity papers, who were meant to slip away managed to leave before the alarm was raised
    when escapee number 77 was spotted.

    Tunnel vision:
    A tunnel reconstruction showing the trolley system.

    Onlythree made it back to Britain.
    Another50 were executed by firing squad on the orders of Adolf Hitler,
    who was furious afterlearning of the breach of security. In all, 90 boards
    from bunk beds, 62tables, 34 chairs and 76 benches, as well as thousands
    of items includingknives, spoons, forks, towels and blankets, were squirreled
    away by the Alliedprisoners to aid the escape plan under the noses of their captors.


    Althoughthe Hollywood movie suggested otherwise, NO Americans were involved
    in theoperation.
    Most wereBritish, and the others were from Canada, (all the tunnelers were
    Canadian
    personnelwith backgrounds in mining) Poland, New Zealand,
    Australia,and South Africa.


    The latest dig, over three weeks in August, located the entrance to Harry, which was originally
    concealed under a stove in Hut 104.

    The team also found another tunnel, called George, whose exact position had not been charted.
    It was never used as the 2,000 prisoners were forced to march to other camps as the Red Army
    approached in January 1945.

    Watching the excavation was Gordie King, 91, an RAF radio operator, who was 140th in line to
    use Harry and therefore missed out. 'This brings back such bitter-sweet memories,' he said as
    he wiped away tears. 'I'm amazed by what they've found.'

    With thanks
    Last edited by Doc Vernon; 4th October 2018 at 10:25 PM.
    Senior Member and Friend of this Website

    R697530

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    Default Re: Stalag Luft 111

    Anyone interested ,A book titled Wings Day an excellent read ,is about Wing Commander Day a POW who was the instigator of many escapes in POW camps was including the Great Escape, a great read Written by Sydney Smith .

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    Default Re: Stalag Luft 111

    I have just watched this on Wednesday on Ch. 19 YESTERDAY freeview uk. The Great Escape Revealed. The true story of the famous P.O.W. breakout.
    At the time when the three tunnels were though of and started, there were three American Air Force prisoners in the camp. They played a very important
    part in preparing the tunnels. Around the time when the tunnels were near completion they were transferred to a new camp which was for Americans Airmen
    as their numbers had increased as their bombing missions grew and larger amounts of prisoners taken. They cursed their luck at the time but little did they
    know it was good fortune for them.
    Bill

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    Default Re: Stalag Luft 111

    There is every chance that Stalag 111 May have been the POW camp that John H Jacobs , think it was John h and not john I , who as a member of the British Army was imprisoned somewhere in Poland. The germans never discovered he was a Jew or doubt he would have survived his internment. Any of you tanker men know the history of the Jacobs family, they were one of if not the oldest tanker company in the UK. Cheers JWS
    Last edited by j.sabourn; 6th October 2018 at 02:51 AM.

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